Lectionary Year B
May 7, 2000
1 John 3:1-7

Step VI: Contemporary Address


The sermon this passage inspires might preach well for a congregation of people who could have lost sight of and/or be confused about true righteousness, where to find it and how to implement it.


We can attempt to raise the consciousness of the parishioners into the dynamics of true righteousness, as God's righteousness is revealed in Christ and give them hints of how to execute/implement such a perspective and do such as righteously.


      Hold on to your hat, this is the second sermon I have outlined in a month or six weeks in which we begin with a figure other than God. Most sermons begin describing God's involvement in human life as the text declares and/or presumes. Today, however, we begin with us, ourselves. Remember when we joined the church? The first question we answered asked, "Do you acknowledge yourselves to be . . ?" When we joined the church, we started by identifying ourselves. That's where we begin today, too. We begin with us.

I. We
      1 John 3 assures us that we are God's children. It justifiably calls us, "children of God". God gives us love and that gift and its Giver enable us to be and to be rightly called "children of God". People can tell, they can detect, we are God's children. A personal illustration, perhaps from Easter Egg Hunts, re: the dynamics of child-likeness, childishness and children-hood-ness, might fit here. 1 John 3 suggests that we have hope that purifies us. As long as we believe that we will be like Him and that we will see Him as He is, we shall become more and more like Him. Seeing Him thus and becoming like Him puts us on the track of purification. Possibly Romans 8:25 and/or Hebrews 11:1 could be cited here. 1 John 3 claims that any and all who abide in God remain sinless. Oh? Develop such an objection with the text in contrast to what we honestly know of our (sinful) selves.

II. Reality Check
      Okay on the, "We are sinners" bit. ‘Cause we are, no question. We miss marks or goodness, of obedience, of trying to avoid mistakes, etc. and et. al. We behave defying God's will. Such misbehavior tends to separate us from God. We do sin, yet.

      And, so, now what about that, "Hope purifies us"? Are we pure, as well as purified? Here, perhaps, we refer to "agnizei". It is a figurative term referring to believers' deciding to receive the gift of salvation from God, as here, James 4:8 and I Peter 1:22, according to Kittel, TDNT, vol I, page 123. So, then, "sinless"? I don't think so, remember "All sin and fall short of God's glory"? That verse includes us, and that's for sure. And, pure? I doubt it. At most we are on our way to being purified.

III. God's Declaration
      God knows we sin and remain impure and yet loves us, sent Jesus Christ to us and forgives us our sinfulness. That, according to our text, is God's and Christ's unequivocal mission on earth and with humankind. Christ personifies God's love which reunites us with God from whom our sinfulness separates us. God declares to us, sinners, to be sure, that we are reunited with our Creator, Redeemer and Friend.

      God knows we are pure in as much as our hoping in Christ's being revealed in and to and through us, is righteous. That experience, of His revelation in and to and through us, gets us on more and more into being pure, as God purifies us via Christ.

      God does something about our sinfulness. It's called Jesus' being righteous. So, now, here, we consider "dikaios". He reveals righteousness. He does righteously. God calls and enables us, too, to be and to do righteous(ly). OT patriarchs are known for doing righteously (Abel, Mt 23:35, Heb 1:14) and saints (Lot, 2 Peter 2:7f) and prophets (Mt 13:17, 23:19) and martyrs (Mt 23:35) and others related to God (Joseph's treating of Mary in Mt 1:19), and Lk 1:6, referring to Zacharias and Elisabeth, Lk 2:25 referring to Simeon, Acts 10:22, referring to Cornelius.) This list from Kittel, TDNT, vol II, p. 189.

      We can be and do righteous(ly). We hear that, in God's Word's estimation, we legitimately get called "children of God". We find hope in discerning Christ as the One revealed to redeem us from our sinfulness. Thereupon, we determine to live doing the right, as Christ is Righteousness personified. Now, He is so in us, the Body of Christ upon earth today, the Church. Ergo, the Church is, following Christ, becoming pure and righteous. God calls and enables us to be and to do so in order to share abundant righteousness with others, as Isaiah 53:11 declares.

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